Message and Resources on Racial Equity and Antiracism

Dear St. Margaret’s Community,
 
Head of School Will Moseley addressed our community on Monday, and he charged each of us as members of the St. Margaret’s community to dig deeper into our work for equity and inclusion so we can each play an active role in shaping a just world. In my role as Director of Equity and Inclusion, I am eager to help our community take this next step, and continue building the necessary cultural competency skills--to listen, to learn, to understand, to engage, to question, to challenge--and ultimately impact meaningful and necessary change.
 
As an Episcopal school community, we are rooted in our Episcopal Identity that states, “Individuals and institutions are called to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.” Further, “Episcopal schools exist not merely to educate, but to demonstrate and proclaim the unique worth and beauty of all human beings.” We also lean on our Core Value of Equity and Inclusion that calls for the just and fair treatment and equal access to opportunity for every person, embracing their unique identity, so they can pursue and fulfill their fullest potential.
 
We are pained and outraged by the tragic and unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others at the hands of racism against African American and Black communities. We join the voices of our nation crying out for a sea change in our culture around race and in our nation’s institutions where systemic racism has persisted far too long.
 
This is an arduous task, especially against the backdrop of 400 years of history, and it will take each of our active engagement in learning with an open heart and open mind, developing our skills, leaning into the conversation and committing to antiracist mindsets and practices.
 
Talking About Race and Antiracism
As we as a community engage in this conversation, we must be willing and equipped to talk about race and racism, and to do so among other adults, to do so as educators, and to do so with our children of all ages.
 
No matter who you are or what your background, we have all experienced the discomfort of talking about race. I believe we have a moral obligation and one to our own community covenants to lean into the discomfort, take risks, and proactively use our voices.
 
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” We do not have the option to be silent because of discomfort or out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.
 
I also believe, along with leading scholars on race in America, that it is no longer enough to be “not racist.” Rather, it is our responsibility as citizens, educators, parents and human beings to be actively antiracist, having the courage to disrupt systemic racism at every opportunity, small or large, as well as taking purposeful actions to support the inclusion and advancement of persons of color in our communities.
 
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, one of the nation’s leading scholars, historian on racism and author of How to Be an Antiracist says, “To be antiracist is a radical choice in the face of history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness.”
 
In partnership with Mr. Moseley and our academic leaders, we share the following collection of trusted resources to inform and guide our thinking, words and actions as we step forward in this moment as citizens, parents, educators and students, and we will continue to build it. Let us all commit fully to this work so that the victims of racial injustice, our fellow citizens, did not suffer or die in vain, and to stand in solidarity with our African American and Black community members.
 
Tartans, we have work to do. I believe in the power of education and our St. Margaret’s community to act courageously and decisively as we strive for equity, inclusion and justice.
 
In solidarity,
Victor Cota
Director of Equity and Inclusion
 
Articles and Web Resources
 
Book Recommendations
 
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
  • This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
If a member of the St. Margaret’s community would like a copy of one of these books or if you would like to engage further in conversation, please contact Victor Cota at victor.cota@smes.org.
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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
949.661.0108
 
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